Morris distills ancient wisdom for modern consumption--Business Forum attracts about 1,000

Tom Morris brought friends with him to Fresno Pacific University's 2008 Business Forum October 22: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Zeno, a high school buddy and a kid who loves baseball.

A former philosophy professor at the University of Notre Dame, Morris distilled the ideas of the ancients into practical wisdom for about 1,000 business and professional leaders over breakfast at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center.

His "Seven Cs of Success" are conception, confidence, concentration, consistency, commitment, character and the capacity to enjoy. To make those Cs more than an alliterative list, Morris turned to a tool that has served philosophers for ages: stories.

Confidence and concentration: A kid in his backyard talks to himself while tossing a baseball in the air and trying to hit it. "I am the world's greatest baseball player," Morris says, taking an imaginary swing. "He misses the ball. He does this three times--strike one, strike two, strike three. Three strikes you're out." The kid is disappointed a moment, Morris says, then brightens as realizes his true talent: "What a pitcher!"

Consistency and commitment: In high school, Morris was already playing professional rock guitar. His best friend, Don, would come over every day and eagerly ask: "Want to start a band?" Don, unfortunately, was a mediocre at even the tambourine and worse at singing. "I'd tell him 'Let's just play,'" Morris says.

But Don doesn't give up. He moves from their native Durham, North Carolina, to Nashville, Tennessee, sleeps in a car for six months, takes guitar and voice lessons and writes songs. Lots of songs. In 1978, he writes "The Gambler" for Kenny Rogers, beginning a string of singles that lands Don Schlitz in the Country Music Hall of Fame. "I'll have one question for him next time I see him," Morris says: "Want to start a band?"

There was more. But in the end the wisdom of the ages comes down to the shortest, and most profound, piece of advice ever given--know thyself. Morris adds one amendment--enjoy the process.

Morris is the author of about 20 books, including "If Aristotle Ran General Motors." He founded the Morris Institute of Human Values, where he serves thousands of business leaders every year.

The annual Business Forum is among the largest events of its kind in the region. Audiences enjoy nationally known speakers, including Ken Blanchard, Patrick Lencioni, John Maxwell and John Wooden.